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Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman

Little Wolves (edition 2013)

by Thomas Maltman

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163973,133 (3.63)10
Title:Little Wolves
Authors:Thomas Maltman
Info:Soho Press (2013), Hardcover, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Uncorrected Proof, crime fiction

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Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman



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This is one of those books where I liked the writing, but didn't quite know what to make of the plot. It involved a lot of things that I don't really know what's up with -- the Midwest, farms, Lutherans ...

The basic plot has some of the elements of a thriller -- it opens with a crime committed by a high school student, and throughout the book you get a lot of Dark Secrets Revealed kind of stuff -- but one thing I liked about it is that the book's focus remains on the interior lives of the main characters for the most part. While it's not a supernatural story, a big theme is how different people respond to ideas about the unknown, whether it be in a religious way or more of a folklore approach.

While I'm usually a fan of the Small Town, Big Secrets type of book, this did seem a little over the top, but I don't know, there's probably a reason I live in NYC. My biggest hurdle with this book was not being able to muster a lot of empathy for the primary character, the pregnant wife of the town's new pastor. I never quite got what her deal is ... she's cool with being rude (sometimes appropriately, sometimes not) in random social interactions, but doesn't seem able to apply any actual assertiveness to situations where it would be, you know, productive. I got the vague feeling that some of her, I'll say outbursts although that's not exactly it, are supposed to be chalked up to her pregnancy, although the book never managed to convince me of that. It always seemed to be the very stereotypical "pregnant ladies, go figure!" attitude.

Overall, this was a book that didn't really click with me in any board sense, but I did find it to be an easy, quick, and engrossing read while it was happening. ( )
  delphica | Jun 9, 2015 |
I liked this book for the small town Minnesota aspects. Great use of language though kind of confusing through parts of it. ( )
  carolvanbrocklin | Aug 10, 2014 |
Loved this book! Great characters, twisty plot, will be great for the All Iowa Reads selection for 2014. Difficult to put down. ( )
  mojomomma | Dec 11, 2013 |
Clara Warren comes to the town of Lone Mountain, MN as a pastor's wife with a secret agenda of learning more about her own past; Lone Mountain is where her mother - of whom her father would never speak except in coded myth - died, and Clara survived. While her husband gets to know his new congregation, Clara teaches English at the high school; there, she meets Seth, an outcast who is drawn to her teaching of Beowulf. But when Seth commits a terrible crime, both Clara and Seth's father Grizz feel there must be more to the story than what is apparent on the surface. Separately, they begin to uncover dark secrets about the town. The story alternates between Clara and Grizz, always in third person, and Clara's sections include some of her father's stories as well as some myths she writes down for herself.


Few people know you so well as those who hate you. (20)

From one [box] she hefted out her Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, which she figured a suitable weapon for doing battle with ghosts trying to take up residence under the stairwell. She held the substantial bulk of the alphabet in her hands, a word for every reality. Madness was for when words failed. (28)

This is what she discovered two nights after the murder: In birth all things are kindred, the sounds we make universal to any species. We enter wailing of a lost world. (30)

Writing was her prayer. (60)

"God gave us an imagination. It may be one of the most beautiful functions of our brain. He left the space open for us to fill." (156)

The dead carve out a space inside us, taking up residence like a man stepping under a willow tree in the rain to sit beside the ghost of our former selves. In this manner each of us is haunted, and who would have it any other way? (216)

The story of what happened went on reverberating in the words and gestures of everything people in town said...all of them knowing there was no language large enough to take the awfulness away. (322)
  JennyArch | Sep 19, 2013 |
Set on the Minnesota prairie, in 1980, this novel opens with an horrendous act and a father who needs and wants answers. The tone from the beginning is ominous and the story just pulled me in and kept me there. Small town, life, farms that are failing, a preacher's wife who has ties to the place but doesn't really understand how or why she has been drawn there. A father who told his daughter stories of wolves and mythology, Beowolf, wolves, coyotes, what do they all mean and where does the evil begin and end? Sensitive characters that are attuned to their environment, a reckoning, revenge, so many parts to this novel. The setting is stark, somewhat barren, the writing crisp as the reader seeks to understand what is happening in this town. Apparently this author has a previous book that I now very much want to read. ( )
  Beamis12 | Jan 10, 2013 |
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Their family farms devastated by a Minnesota drought in 1987, a father searches for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, while a pastor's wife returns to the town for mysterious reasons of her own.

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